Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: United Kingdom
Bill Simmons' latest article comparing Kobe Bryant to the all-time greats: The Sports Guy talks NBA leadership with Bill Russell, plus Week 14 picks - Grantland
Regarding Kobe's ranking, Simmons ranks him about 7th or 8th:
If we're really comparing Kobe to the greatest players who ever lived — something that seems to be happening more and more lately — you can't just rattle off his résumé (30,000 points, five titles, 10 first-team All-NBAs, one MVP, two Finals MVPs, etc.) without mentioning the other stuff. Of the 14 greatest players of all time, only Wilt and Kobe needed 10,000-word footnotes to cover "the other stuff." That list currently looks like this: Jordan, then Russell, then Kareem, then Magic/Bird, then Wilt, then Kobe/Duncan (or Duncan/Kobe), then West/Oscar, then Hakeem/Shaq/Moses. With LeBron lurking in there somewhere. We just don't know where yet.
You can pick apart his top-five candidacy pretty easily. He was the second-best player on three of those five title teams (not the best). He's only been voted "Most Valuable" once. He never held the "Best Player Alive" belt as emphatically as Jordan did, or even LeBron or Duncan did. And unlike Bird, Magic and Michael, his team seriously considered trading him one time (in 2007).
But you can't take two numbers away from him: 30,000 (points) and five (rings). It's all about pressure over time. He can't beat Jordan conventionally. Looking at the career regular-season averages …
- Jordan: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 50% FG, 84% FT, 27.9 PER, .250 WS/48, 5 MVPs
- Magic: 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, 52% FG, 85% FT, 23.0 PER, .208 WS/48, 3 MVPs.
- Bryant: 25.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 45% FG, 84% FT, 23.5 PER, .185 WS/48, 1 MVP
… it's no contest. Jordan wins by any calculation.6 And Magic remains the second-best guard ever, at least if you're going by those numbers. Career playoff averages don't help Kobe's case, either.
- Jordan: 33.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.7 APG, 41.8 MPG, 49% FG, 83% FT, 28.6 PER, .255 WS/48, 6 rings, 6 MVPs
- Magic: 19.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 12.4 APG, 39.7 MPG, 51/84%, 23.0 PER, .208 WS/48, 5 rings, 3 MVPs
- Bryant: 25.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 39.3 MPG, 45% FG, 82% FT, 22.4 PER, .157 WS/48, 5 rings, 2 MVPs
We're still not arguing. Jordan's 33.5 PPG remains the highest ever — nobody else even cracked 30. Magic's 12.4 APG remains the highest ever — nobody else even cracked 10.2.
However, Simmons also mentions lots of reasons why Kobe belongs in the conversation as one of the greatest ever. Just not the